…SF addict …

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A return to Mars!

But not by Wells!
Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898)
This 'sequel to The War of the Worlds' was written in the same year as Wells' marvellous tale but by another author-Garrett P. Serviss.

Serviss was an astronomer and scientist who wrote many non-fiction works on astronomy, both for beginners and the more advanced astronomer-think of him as an early Sir Patrick Moore! (who himself has written SF!)
Anyway the premise of this story is that an American contingent decide to make a trip to Mars before the Martians can return for a second attack, and needing the ships to make the trip they turn to inventor Thomas Edison to design the ships- also serving as a pilot. On the way they make an odd discovery on an asteroid that would surely have a great effect on Earth's economy! Also they discover a race of giants living on a well known asteroid-very bizarre!
Despite the subtitle 'the sequel to H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds' the two novels couldn't be more different! While Wells's martians were 'mere round bodies with no arms nor legs-quite repulsive', Serviss describes them as giant humanoids 15 feet in height with larger heads, 4 limbs like humans,  the heads having odd bumps depending on their role-warriors or scientists, a deliniation that reminded me of the lives of Bees!
Also his Mars is a watery place not much different to Earth, rather than the dry barren world of the former book-in Serviss's book it is somewhat reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom.

Despite such differences and a certain naivete (the crew have no radio, and the individual ships must communicate with each other via flags and lights!) it made for a good read with decent science, and at times it is amazing that it was written before 1900!
If you fancy reading it you can get it here, free:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/19141
The copy I downloaded though, with images, had a glitch in as much as some of the images overlaid the text making it hard to read where such an image appeared-the html-ePub conversion being done with errors. Of course it is possible to get it without the images.


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